These Glowing Bandages Can Reduce the Chances of Antibiotic-Resistant Bugs

These Glowing Bandages Can Reduce the Chances of Antibiotic-Resistant Bugs
Image credit: Engadget

Bacteria that can shrug off antibiotics is a medical problem that still needs answering, but this prototype could help reduce how much antibiotics are used on patients, and decrease the chances for bugs to become resistant.

The experimental bandage from researchers at the University of Bathglows green when it comes into contact with unfriendly bacteria, (hypothetically) alerting medical staff when a wound is infected. A film formed by the body when defends against bacteria releases toxins that react with the bandage, puncturing the membrane of dye capsules stored in the bandage. That dye then glows (in case bright green didn't stand out enough) when it dissolves in the gel around it.

According to Technology Review, doctors often overprescribe antibiotics for burn wounds, particularly in children, due to the risk of infection -- increasing the chances of creating antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. According to Toby Jenkins, Professor of biophysical chemistry at the University of Bath who led the study, the bandages would be particularly useful for monitoring patients post-surgery -- and could even help diagnose infected wounds. One recent demonstration showed how the bandage reacted to three different pathogenic (bad) infections, yet failed to glow when the biofilms came into contact with non-pathogenic strains. If research goes well, clinical trials could start in 2018.